by: Scott Wickersham Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte Fire Department's new headquarters in north Charlotte is now 307 days overdue. It was supposed to be in September.
Work on the $11 million headquarters on Statesville and Graham started in March 2012.
Channel 9 has learned its shiny, glass-covered facade of steel-framed windows has slowed down the entire project. The windows cost taxpayers $2 million.
City project manager Bruce Miller said aluminum frames would have been half the price.
The fire department declined an interview, but defends the higher cost and said the steel lasts longer and it "strives to construct long-lasting, durable buildings that will withstand over a hundred years of wear and use."
City council members approved the extra cost, but Miller said the sub-contractor hired to install the windows, Charlotte Glass, made vital errors.
It did not order the windows early enough and when they did arrive, “the frames did not fit within the window bays, adjustments had to be made to some steel, some had to be re-fabricated,” Miller said.
The delays took months.
General contractor Myers and Chapman is now paying $500 a day for being late, for what's called "liquidated damages."
For about $150,000, but that penalty will not cover all of the rising cost for taxpayers.
The city had to extend the lease on its current fire headquarters. It is still paying the head architect, costing taxpayers an extra $277,000 so far and the tab is rising every day.
“There is no other recourse other than liquidated damages. We're doing everything we can to recover the money,” Miller said.
Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Barnes said the $500 fine seemed reasonable because no one thought the project would be this late.
Because of all the problems, he'll make sure city staffers look long and hard for any other flaws.
“I certainly want our folks to make sure there aren't any other major structural or systems issues within that building,” he said.
Miller said the city may now consider increasing late fines in future contracts.
That won't save taxpayers from a loss that continues to grow at their new fire headquarters.
Channel 9 contacted Myers and Chapman and Charlotte Glass, but never heard back.
The city said the contractor hopes to have the headquarters done in August, but city staff thinks it may take until the end of this year.
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